Sunday, October 09, 2011

Black Sheep Sunday: Hold Woman As Bandit Accomplice

Source: Marion Leader-Tribune, Marion, Indiana, January 1, 1925, p. 1


Was In Auto When Marion Bank Robbed

Mrs. Mary Bridgewater, 29, Denies Complicity in Crime

Married But A Month

Was Asked, She Said, to Take Auto Ride and Ignorant of the Plan

One more thread of the web covering up the identity and activities of the bank bandits who robbed the Upland state bank of $2,500, the South Marion bank of $4,000, the Lebanon hardware store, and attempted to rob the Noblesville bank, was unwound by the authorities yesterday when Mrs. Mary Bridgewater, 29, of Indianapolis, was brought to Marion and placed in jail.

Mrs. Bridgewater, claiming to have been married less than a month, admits she and another woman were in the car when the South Marion bank was robbed.

The woman denies she had any part in the robbery, and says she was not with the gang when the other robberies were committed.

Takes Precautions

Because of alleged statements made about their desire to avoid punishment, Sheriff Bert Renbarger has thrown a close guard around the prisoners.  They are kept separately and are being watched closely.

William Behrens, one of the bandits, under sentence of from ten to twenty-five years, said yesterday he would prefer to take a man's place condemned to the electric chair  than a long prison term.  He has already served time.

Marion "Red" Smith plead guilty in the circuit court yesterday to auto banditry and like his two associates, Behrens and Robbins, was given a sentence of from ten to twenty-five years.

Three men of the gang and one woman are still at large, but it is thought authorities will soon have them.

Sheriff Bert Renbarger is working closing with the Webster detective agency at Indianapolis, and other authorities in solving the robberies.  It is believed the whole gang will soon be behind bars.  Three now await long terms, a third awaits hearing.

With three of the gang of six bank robbers who have infested Grant and other counties in jail and sentenced to prison, the unceasing vigilance of detectives, sheriffs and other officers in attempting to round up the entire gang, met with success again late yesterday afternoon, when a woman was arrested at Indianapolis on a charge of complicity in the bank robbery of the South Marion State bank.  She is Mrs. Mary Bridgewater, 29 years old, giving Indianapolis as her home.  She was brought to the Grant County jail last night by detectives from the Webster agency of Indianapolis, who made the arrest.

Talks to Reporter

According to her story told to a Leader-Tribune reporter last night, Mrs. Bridgewater had been visiting with relatives in the southern part of the state since Christmas and had not heard of the arrest of the three bandits.  She had just returned to Indianapolis yesterday afternoon and was just starting to enter her home when she was placed under arrest.

She admitted last night to being one of two women who occupied the Nash car as it stood in front of the South Marion State bank on the afternoon of November 27, when the male occupants of the car held up the officers and customers in the bank and secured about $4,000.  She denied being with the bandits at the Upland bank and also at Noblesville.

"The men asked me and another woman if we wanted to go on an automobile ride," Mrs. Bridgewater said, "and we replied that we would go.  They did not tell us where our destination was or for what purpose the trip was being made.  When the automobile reached the South Marion bank, the men got out and said for us to remain in the car, as they were going into the bank for a few minutes.  They did not tell us why they went into the bank and I did not know that the bank was being robbed."

Drove to Indianapolis

"After the robbery, we drove back to Indianapolis.  I did not get any of the money which was stolen from the Marion or Upland bank."

Mrs. Bridgewater, who has dark complexion, hair and eyes, seemed to bear out her statement that she had received none of the stolen money, as she was dressed very ordinarily, wearing a long coat of imitation fur.  She said she had been married to her present husband less than one month and that this is her third marriage, and has four children by the former marriages.  She said that she had never been in trouble of any kind before and that last night was her first night in any jail.

The woman stated that she was not well acquainted with her present husband before she married him and that his occupation was that of a lineman.

Marion Smith, alias "Red" Smith, the third bandit, who was arrested at Indianapolis Tuesday afternoon, was arraigned in circuit court yesterday, where he entered a plea of guilty to a charge of automobile banditry and was given a sentence of from ten to twenty years in the state reformatory, from which institution he was released only five months ago, after serving a sentence for vehicle taking.

William Behrens, also known as "Red," who was given his sentence Tuesday afternoon, told Sheriff Renbarger yesterday that he is willing to trade places with some the electric chair...long term in court yesterday morning, admitted to taking part in the South Marion bank robbery, as well as the Upland robbery.  He said that he was taken from his mother when he was only fourteen months old and had not seen his parents since that time and that he had just recently received word that a woman he believed to be his mother, was located in Sedalia, Mo., and that he needed some money to go to that city.  He gave his home address as Brazil, Ind., where he had been employed in washing gravel.

Following a statement made by Behrens to Turnkey Marsh that he, Behrens, would get out of jail if he could find any possible way, has led to extra precautions being taken with the bandits.  Each bandit has been placed on separate floors, with the woman, arrested last night, placed in the women's department.

This article is another in a series of follow-up stories to the robberies of the Upland State bank and South Marion bank by a group of robbers, led by my paternal cousin, Harry PIERPONT (1902-1934).  Harry later became famous as a member of the "Terror Gang" with John Dillinger.  These earlier robberies terrorized Indiana during 1924-25.

Black Sheep Sunday – create a post with the main focus being an ancestor with a “shaded past.” Bring out your ne’er-do-wells, your cads, your black widows, your horse thieves and tell their stories. And don’t forget to check out the International Black Sheep Society of Genealogists (IBSSG). This is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

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